Roughly 27% of people worldwide have paid a bribe to a government agency in the last 12 months, according to the latest Global Corruption Barometer report from Transparency International. The survey covered more than 114,000 people across 107 countries, the Wall Street Journal reports, and on the bright side, two-thirds said they refused to pay up when asked for bribes . . . Sierra Leone took the cake with 84% of people paying up, while upright Japan, Australia, and Denmark each had only 1%. The US came in at 7%, but all is hardly hunky dory here, with 76% saying they believed the political parties were affected by corruption.
Jeb spread a false rumor about another leader in the church. His pastor after confirming the report was untrue, confronted him about the report and asked him to recant. Jeb refused and shortly thereafter, left the church. Unfortunately, in a bizarre twist of events, Jeb’s departure ended up in the elders expelling their pastor and church founder. The body of Christ lost a talented leader and in hearing this true story I was reminded of Jesus’ warning to his disciples.
We sang in worship this morning a song that included a desire to present to God an inside that was both clean and committed. It reminded me of the words of another song, “Cleanse my heart O God.” I’ve probably sung that song a hundred times without dwelling on the fact that unless my focus is heart-centric cleansing is superficial at best. In any area that I have not surrendered to God from the core of my being, I continue to struggle. For example, I know that when my wife is talking to me I should listen. Yet, because I am intent on getting my work done or enjoying my activity, I do not give her my full attention. Mentally I ought to be able to fix inattentiveness and focus on what Kathleen is saying but without a surrendered heart it is just not so. The problem at the core is I am more concerned with my things than with her things.
In 2010, in the Democratic Republic of Congo,a man decided to make money selling a crocodile so he placed the two-to-three foot reptile in his sports bag and illegally brought him aboard a Czech-made Let L-410 Turbolet flying out of Kinshasa. The crocodile managed to chew his way loose sparking a stampede amongst the terrified passengers. Their sudden movement to escape caused the plane to go into a spin and crash into a house not far from its final destination. Nineteen people were killed with only one person surviving to tell the harrowing story. Ironically, the crocodile also survived only to be killed with a machete by rescuers going through the wreckage.
I’m sure the smuggler never considered that his croc would cause a plane crash. That’s the problem with those who break the law seemingly to gain some benefit.
2 Chronicles 14:7—So he said to the people of Judah, “Let’s build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, with doors and bars. The land is still ours because we sought the LORD our God. We sought Him and He gave us rest on every side.” So they built and succeeded.
“A June 2013 Gallup poll revealed that 70% of Americans hate their jobs or have “checked out” of them.” According to Dr. Bruce Levine, young Americans especially are rebelling against an unpleasant life through what is termed mental illness. Depression is 10-20 times more common than it was 50 years ago and it has also become a young person’s setback. “Whereas 30 years ago the average age at which the first onset of depression occurred was 29.5, now the average age is between 14 and 15.”A New York Times report in 2007 discovered that the number of children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder had increased 40-fold between 1994 and 2003. The Center for Disease Control shares the following: “A total of 13%–20% of children living in the United States experience a mental disorder in a given year, and surveillance during 1994–2011 has shown the prevalence of these conditions to be increasing.”
Lamentations 3:39—Why should any living person complain, any man, because of the punishment for his sins?
One of the aspects of leadership that I find most taxing is taking disciplinary action against employees for immoral, illegal, or unethical behavior. If people were honest and simply confessed wrongdoing it would not be so hard. Yet rarely does that seem to be the case. Excessive time and emotional energy is spent in separating truth from fiction.
Imagine if a few influential leaders suggested that traffic lights are too restrictive. They offend a percentage of drivers who feel trapped and forced to conform to other motorists. Three-way lights are insensitive to the needs of the color blind and old fashioned. Either do away with them or give each driver leeway to determine whether to brake or accelerate. Of course, if this really happened there would be an outcry by safety-minded drivers for the ruckus and accidents that would ensue.
Mark 15:15—Then, willing to gratify the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. And after having Jesus flogged, he handed Him over to be crucified.
Have you ever made an exciting discovery? You go and share your new found information with those who should be interested and their response is unenthusiastic. Instead of them celebrating with you or wanting to learn more, you are met with disinterested head nodding. The test of whether someone really cares about what you care about is their genuine willingness to get involved.
Nahum 3:3,5,6—Charging horseman, flashing sword, shining spear; heaps of slain, mounds of corpses, dead bodies without end—they stumble over their dead . . . I am against you. This is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts. I will lift your skirts over your face and display your nakedness to nations, your shame to kingdoms. I will throw filth on you and treat you with contempt; I will make a spectacle of you.
Do you ever wonder what the point is for reading books of the Bible that primarily contain prophecies of God’s impending judgment against certain people and nations? Jonah, Nahum and Zephaniah all prophesied against the Assyrian empire. When Nahum predicted the impending destruction of the capital city, Nineveh, Assur-bani-pal was its evil king. Nineveh was full of bloodshed, deceit, plundering and constant warring against others (3:1).
Located in Belgium, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) is the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO), one of NATO's two strategic military commands. While visiting SHAPE headquarters a group of about twenty of us received a briefing from Admiral James Stravidus. Unlike any other meeting we attended over a five week period (spanning multiple organizations and three and four star headquarters), Admiral Stravidus used only pictures. His presentation was spell-binding. Not only did the use of pictures free of verbiage help us to concentrate more on his words, they also reinforced what he was trying to say so that we were better able to understand his intent. He is a dynamic leader who demonstrates an uncanny ability to clearly express himself.
Sometimes we can do what God asks of us and suffer disastrous consequences. When this happens we can do one of two things, we can turn away from God and blame Him for our misfortunes, or we can humble ourselves and continue to do exactly what He asks. To see a clear example of this we need only turn back in history to a dark time in the land of Israel.
Have you ever sat on a plane and gone in circles? San Francisco airport is fogged in and so we fly around the city in a holding pattern waiting for permission to land. The airplane is sufficiently equipped for the pilot to take us to the runway we can’t see but he does not have permission. Despite the security of a Captain’s confident promise that he can fly us down when needed, fear etches the faces of folks who probably have not flown here before. Eventually we land in fog so thick even the wing is obscured!
There is a slang term in the English language, brown nose. It means to seek favor in a fawning manner. For example, someone may pay you a compliment to make you feel good about yourself while in reality what that person wants is simply to gain your favor. People brown nose to gain a higher standing. Those who observe people brown nosing, often ridicule them directly or behind their back because the action smacks of flattery and a lack of genuineness.
One of the reasons I love to study the Bible is the amazing way God speaks to the times in which we live. Read what the prophet Hosea wrote to his countrymen sometime between 755 and 722 B.C. and see if his words speak to your nation.
Roman Catholic monk Girolamo Savonarola, (September 21, 1452 – May 23, 1498), was shocked by the immorality in Italy and by the corruption he observed within the church. As a teenager, he walked beside the River Po where he sang to God and wept over the condition of the people. At the age of 22, he wrote “Contempt of the World,” comparing the sins of his time to Sodom and Gomorrah. Years later, while praying, the Holy Spirit gave him a vision in which he was told to announce to the people that hard times were coming to the church.
Nigeria is a nation of over 146 million people—the largest populated country in Africa. It comprises more than 250 ethnic groups of which the following are the most populous and politically influential: Hausa and Fulani 29%, Yoruba 21%, Igbo (Ibo) 18%, Ijaw 10%, Kanuri 4%, Ibibio 3.5%, and Tiv 2.5%.* In mass Nigeria is over twice the size of California. The nation is located on the Gulf of Guinea and shares borders with the countries of Benin, Cameroun, Chad and Niger. Our team ministered in the city of Jos which literally means Jesus Our Savior! Jos is part of the Plateau State (Nigeria has 36 states) which sits in the middle of the country.
A home improvement con artist swindled a 100 year-old blind woman. He rang the woman's bell, unsolicited, to offer to do any repair work needed. The woman told him that for years she had struggled with a door that was difficult to open because it rubbed against the rug. To fix the problem, she agreed to pay the man $8,000, to jack up her house.